Pause On The Play Ep 9
Hello, hello. Welcome back to Pause On The Play. As always, it is amazing to see you here, where you are challenged to examine your beliefs, question your predisposed notions, and consider realities that you may be unfamiliar with to understand that they too are real. I am your host and conversation emcee for the day, Erica Courdae, here to get the dialogue going. I'm actually going to pop in today a dialogue that I had with India Jackson of India Jackson Artistry. We always have such great dialogues, so I really love being able to share those conversations with you, because conversation, to me, is something that there's nothing better than when it segues into five different places. That was not what you were trying to do with it, because that means that it took a life of its own. You got comfortable. You fell into it, and you let it happen.
You let it be organic. There's something just you can't replace that. You can't create it. You can have conversation and talk but, when things just flow, it's a very different thing. We had a really great conversation on a few different things. We touched on things like respectability politics. And how, for me, the problem with that is it is a form of systemic racism. What's so bad about it is that it is sometimes perpetrated by the people that it is actually created to limit. Respectability politics is this thing of, "Oh, well you are," fill in the blank of any marginalized group. "In order to be acceptable, you need to be," fill in the blank of things that are typically the opposite of what they are or are considered. I'm doing air quotes here, "to be White". Or, in which case, that then makes it more acceptable because it's not a Black person doing it. It's not a Hispanic person doing it. It's not a gay person doing it. It's not a trans person doing it.
These things that are not considered acceptable, again those air quotes, because it's not packaged the way that some people think it should be. Talking about that, I want you to just consider what that can look like, and how that may pop up in places. I want you to begin to learn how to spot those things and talk about what it is to have these experiences and these desires to do things, but yet your experiences are limited because of what you look or where you live at the time that you were born, things like that. How these underlying generational stories or beliefs that are given to you can create this mindset that you then have to go back and deprogram yourself.
In being able to recognize it, it can make it slightly easier because I don't really believe that it's an easy thing. I even speak from experience from myself and the conversations that I have of people agreeing with that. But at least being able to spot it means that it is more likely that you can say, "I see what this is. I don't want to subscribe to it because it does not serve me. It is not aligned with my beliefs and my values. I need to put in something that is going to actually serve me. That I can actually work with them in my life versus there's all these should's that were given to me and I don't want them." There's a few different places that it goes. This is what happens here a lot, but I want you to hear what we're talking about. I want you to take that as a queue of some things to go have conversations about.
Some questions that you could ask because I think that, for example, at one point, we talk about some of the stories that we were given growing up around what it looks like to move into the workforce and job versus career and things like that. I think that if you are a business owner or an entrepreneur and you are in a position to use your privilege to support others, then being able to understand what they came from, and the stories that they were given that could shape how they move forward, that's something that you need to have. You need to understand what that starting place is because that goes back to equity. We're not starting from the same place. Then that means that as you try to get to the same place, you're not given a level-playing field to get them. Take the time to consider some things that you can ask to be able to make impact with your privilege and start with conversation. I will go ahead and let you guys listen in. As always, I really like when you come over to Instagram and tell me your takeaways. It means the world to know what you're thinking and feeling about what you're hearing. Tell me what you want to know about. So here you go.
Erica Courdae: We are back. The last time we were talking about respectability politics and how race, gender, or space can play into it. We hit this note of having the space to be able to honor yourself and how you can actually do that in life despite being told what you should do or what you shouldn't do. I think that there's something to be said about when you are in a marginalized group, and how it is less than easy to be able to show up as you and to not fall prey to some of this respectability politics.
Erica Courdae: As a woman of color and a hairstylist, for years being behind the chair, having to have conversations with people about how they wanted to not relax their hair anymore. But they also were not willing to feel less than qualified at work, or have their authority undermined because all of a sudden now your hair is curly or kinky versus straight, somebody has now decided that you are now deemed unworthy or unprofessional. That's just one really prominent example of the respectability politics, but also how it is very challenging to live authentically within a space that you can create for yourself to be yourself within the world that we live in.
India Jackson: I think that's a big one to hear about hair. One of the things coming up for me is that until I started coming to you as a client, because we'd already worked together with you being the makeup artists and ourselves for shoots for my brand. When I actually started coming to you as a hair client, I think, at that point in my life, I had never seen my natural hair texture ever, which is crazy to even think of now because I was into my 20s. I didn't know what my hair looked like. I had never been without a relaxer. I think that, one side of it is it can really be put on women of color specifically that your hair, well, men of color too, that your hair needs to be shortened, well-kept for the men.
India Jackson: For women, that your hair has to be straight or wavy, it can't be this kinky curly, wild thing that we naturally sometimes have from outside looking into our community. Then also, after generation after generation of putting that on to us, we then deliver it to our own people to a degree to make them feel like, "Well, this is what you need to do to be presentable for a job or presentable for school or university, or modeling, or whatever it is that you want to do." We're kind of policing ourselves if we're not careful with that.
Erica Courdae: That's where that whole respectability politics comes in. An easy way that you can do a little research if you want to see how this shows up is there was a story recently of a teacher in Houston passing this law to say that these parents of high schoolers could not come. She gave a laundry list of things that, "Oh, you can't come if you or are dressed any of these ways." It came off very classist. It came off very elitist, but it was also sadly a great example of respectability politics. This limiting of saying that, "You can't show up unless you show up this way." Despite the fact that these parents were simply doing what they needed to for their kids, and because they didn't look the way that she felt as though that they shouldn't have, she passed judgment on that.
Erica Courdae: Now this is not necessarily to even reach the whole concept of, "Well, if you're going to leave the house you should look X, Y, Z way blah, blah, blah." That's a very different thing, but I think when you are looking at these stigmas that are passed down generationally, these stories. Then we started policing ourselves and then a lot of it is feeding into what mainstream society says that you should or should not do. Therefore, you're now giving cannon fodder for somebody to judge you before you've even done anything. It doesn't necessarily decide your character. That's a really tough thing. That's why, for a lot of people, I think sometimes it's easier to simply just acclimate and go with it then to go against it because you may be finding an uphill battle. Some battles are a little harder to win than others.
Erica Courdae: I was talking to a client and her husband was telling me about how when he was in high school, he always wanted to play golf. Because I asked him, "You love golf. When did you start playing here? How long have you been playing it?" He said, "Well, I wanted to play in high school, but I couldn't because I was Black. Black players were not allowed on the golf course with the White players. You just couldn't go. If you weren't White, you couldn't go." When he was able to finally play at some point, he would find ways that he could go. He hoped he didn't get in trouble. But then eventually, he could. It's something that he really enjoys. He's loved it for the majority of his life. It was assumed that, "Oh, well, you don't want to play golf," or, "they don't play golf."
India Jackson: Black people don't do golf.
Erica Courdae: Correct. Tiger Woods is not the only one. I'm sorry to tell you. He's not. There was just this generational story around it. He couldn't do something that he wanted to because of it. It's just very interesting to me to see these parallels between the respectability politics and the assumption of what someone is or isn't based on what they look like. If someone shows up to drop off their kids, if you have one person that's White and one person that's Black, and it's a Black man that has on jeans and a tank top undershirt, which are called White beaters. We have to look it up, I'm not going there but White beater. Then, you have a White woman that has a messy top knot and yoga pants on. Both of those parents showed up. If you look at those two individual parents and you would judge them differently, well, this is the exact underlying issue.
India Jackson: I think it's really interesting because one of the things that you touched on earlier was giving space to figure out and sort through these things of your ideas of how you show up versus other people's ideas. I can only say, for me, as a woman of color, I feel like I was never even told that that was an option in my upbringing and in the other people of color around me. Because, coming from all the challenges that just come with being lower income or the challenges that come with being of color, I don't know where one is in one category and one's in the other category. But it's the hustle mentality of like, "You got to make money. You got to get good grades in school. You got to get through college, if that's even an option. You got to stay on the hustle."
India Jackson: It's always one thing after the next. There's no such thing as space. It's so weird to now be at a place where we are being exposed to these kinds of people. A lot of what we're learning about entrepreneurship and stepping into the leadership role of being a CEO is a lot about taking the space to figure out who you are, what you're doing, and why you're doing it so you can be more intentional. But that is going completely against everything that people of color, in my opinion, are given because we're like space. What space? You better get this thing done.
Erica Courdae: Hustle.
India Jackson: You need to make this money, the hustle life.
Erica Courdae: Yes. There are definitely some pieces of framework or mindset that, in the very beginning, felt counterintuitive to me because it went against what I was given and what I think is definitely the mentality that is given through movies or media. Even if you look at social media, sometimes it's this whole hustle hard, blah blah blah blah. You'll see that in business across the board, which is not healthy. You'll see it, but you definitely see that within communities of color. When I began to hear people within some of these business communities that were White saying things like, "You know, I just took some time. I just went away for a few days. I just really gave myself space to think." I'm like, "What?"
India Jackson: That's an option?
Erica Courdae: I didn't know that was a thing. That concept of, "I am trying to figure this out. If I push too hard, I'm not going to figure it out. I have to allow myself space to figure this out." That concept of space somehow, based on the programming that I was given, I'm going to call it what it is. Programming, it sounded laziness. That was what it translated to because that concept of, "I had to just step out of my business today to take a break." If I translated that into what I was given growing up and then early 20s when I would regularly have three jobs, it was, "So you mean you just stayed home and didn't make any money and there was nothing wrong with you? You got to go to work."
Erica Courdae: That wasn't an option. But if you look at it from a place of now for me, if I know a little differently and no better as I would hope that, I think I know better, but it's the whole like, "Number one, I'm working too many jobs because I'm not working for enough money. I am working a job. I am not trying to get a career." There's a lot of pieces of that, that I have to look at. But at the same time, it's just this working hard. But then what are you working hard for? What's the goal? What are we trying to get to? What's the underlying thing here? When you're trying to do these things and you will burn yourself out mentally, physically, and emotionally, and we have not even considered stopping for a second.
Erica Courdae: It's like, "Are you good? Are you okay? Can you do this?" Because mental health is not considered and is a badge of honor to burn out. It is a badge of honor to say, "Look at what I did. I worked so hard and I worked for 23 hours straight. This is to be admired." No, your ass is tired. I don't admire this thing. Having that work ethic of push, push, push was given. But for people of color, especially as a Black person, it is given because there is this, I can't call it this stigma because I do believe that in a lot of ways that is absolutely correct. There's some statistics that prove it. I had to work twice as hard to be considered half as good. I said it out loud.
India Jackson: Yes. That is a very big one. I think the crazy thing is to audience that doesn't know enough about us just yet, we were raised very differently. I'm 32. We're two different ages.
Erica Courdae: I am 39. I will be 40 this year.
India Jackson: The crazy thing to me is being raised differently, having very different kinds of parents instill the message which I have to tie back to being a color was the same as, hustle is a badge of honor. Hustle is looked at as this grandiose thing to achieve. "Oh yeah, girl. He's a hustler." Or, "She's a hustler." I mean, you even think about not to bring celebrities into it, but Beyonce and Jay-Z made hustling this beautiful thing that everybody wants to now do. So then they step into a space where you don't know what you don't know. You're starting to see how people who have achieved a different level of success, who have put themselves in a different type of circle that don't look like us, have been in. It's like, "Oh no, the last thing they want to do is hustle." Their marketing is all about getting out of the hustle.
Erica Courdae: Correct. Well, it's funny. Even going back to the whole Beyonce again with Homecoming, her special that's on Netflix. She mentioned in there that there was a point when she could rehearse 15 hours a day and do all these things. She's like, "Now, I have three kids. I have a lot of things that I want to do. I can't do those things anymore." Her priorities have shifted. She has now decided that, "What I could do when it was just me, I cannot now do what I have a family that I want to be able to emotionally invest myself in." Yet, I grew up with a mother that was a single parent that just worked a stupid amount of hours because, well, what else do you do?
Erica Courdae: Granted there are times where you got to. Things happen and circumstances happen. You just have to do what you have to do, but not doing that was never a consideration. Hitting this point of, "I know what is good and what is not good for me." A lot of it comes through trial and error. But learning like, "Yeah, I can see how at some point in my life I could do this. Maybe I even thought that it was admirable." But I'm now no different, and I know better, and I want to do better. Part of it comes with age. Part of it definitely comes within it. For me, at least, it came with being a parent and a wife and all those kinds of things that came up. But then just knowing that you don't have to do this thing of, "I live a job working 40 hours ago of a work, 60 for myself." I don't have to do that.
India Jackson: I think a big thing that comes up for me in this conversation is just breaking down that a lot of people of color are so far in the weeds, that they're just trying to dig themselves out of the crab burrow. When you are at that place, both you and the people that raise you, they're not thinking about asking the challenging questions of, why am I hustling? What am I hustling for? It's just, "Let's just get out of the fricking boiling pot of hot water as the crabs." I think that that transition starts to happen again when you are able to take a step back and give yourself the space and preferably from a place of clarity and not from a place of, "I'm burnt out. I'm about to have a mental breakdown," to say, "What do I want to achieve in the long term? What's the smartest way to get there instead of just working hard?"
Erica Courdae: Right. The other thing that is also acknowledging the fact that in saying, "I want to work differently. I want to work smarter and not so hard." Are you still able to find a space in there to be able to even question, on a basic level, why does my amount of working hard not equal the working hard of my White counterparts?"
India Jackson: Yes.
Erica Courdae: Why is there a difference there? What is it that makes mine equate differently than yours? Or what is it that maybe you were given knowledge base wise that changed things for you or network or access or any of these things? Again, that now comes back to some of it as class. It could be culture. It's definitely race in some of these cases. I'm now trying to do different, but I'm not even getting this space to be able to say, "Even with me doing different, my different still doesn't equal your different." When you have people that are trying to step up and do differently for themselves and the next generation, you still are now trying to find that space to be like, "Well, why the hell is this still a big gap?"
India Jackson: Yes. Why do I still feel like, "No matter how much I bring to the table, that's better or equal to my counterparts, I'm not getting the same amount of opportunities"
Erica Courdae: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Or what I'm doing isn't one to be regarded in the same light as some of my White counterparts. It's very challenging to feel as though you have done the things that you were supposed to do, yet you still can't get the things that you should be receiving. It is a very difficult thing to not allow that to create sort of a mindfuck of, "Oh, you're not good enough so you're never going to get those things," or, "These things are not things that you are deserving of or entitled to. You have not earned these things." Any of the dialogue or stories that can be put on it, what does it look to say, "I'm going to work my ass off and do this yet I'm still right behind you." Figuring out how to not mentally put yourself there because now it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I don't want to assume that this is what's happening but damn it, I'm not blondy.
India Jackson: That's a tough one to really still show up with a certain level of self-confidence, self-awareness, and self worth that I don't think culturally is given to us. To work very hard for the same roles, positions, and opportunities and to not get the same pay, to not get the same level of amount of closing or percentage of jobs that you close on, if you're a contractor or a freelancer, and yet still say to yourself that this doesn't have anything to do with my value.
Erica Courdae: That's before you even consider if you're a Black woman in that situation. Now you have being a minority on two different levels intersecting and what this can look like. This is where it's so important to me for the women that don't look like me, to have conversations with women that do look like me, to be able to understand these things so that if you are an entrepreneur that is designing something for women entrepreneurs. Or women entrepreneurs can benefit from what you have, or they can somehow be supported by what you do. Understanding what some of these challenges look like, understanding some of their programming that people are trying to overcome and throw out, and rebuild better, more supportive thought processes around things. What these unique challenges are? You can't support someone when you don't know why you're supporting them, why they need the support, where the support is so important and the difference that it can make.
Erica Courdae: If you're not having these conversations for somebody to be able to tell you these things you don't know, you might even realize that there's things in there where it's like, "Okay, there's some of these things that I got because while I might not have grown up Black, I grew up poor. This is where mine is." There's a lot of space to be able to have connection when you can figure out what similar. But then when you figure out what is different, then it gives you an opportunity as someone that has a platform or does have privilege to say, "I want you to begin to let this not have to be something that continues another generation. What can I do differently from where I am?"
India Jackson: Yeah, that's a big one.
Erica Courdae: Of course, that's one that I think we can talk about multiple times. That'll definitely come up again. As always, I appreciate having India here that helped rank me in, in your point of you.
India Jackson: Thank you, Erica.
Erica Courdae: Pause On The Play is one iteration of how we use conversation to create connection. Our one-on-one calls is another. This is where you can get support on how your beliefs and values around diversity, equity, and inclusion are showing up for your business. How you vote with your dollars, how you are sharing your message to let people know that you curated a space with them in mind. That you want to talk with them and hold space for them to have a seat at the table. Hop on over to ericacourdae.com today and register for a complimentary tea-time chat. These are our connection calls, so we can hop on, discuss your needs and create a plan of action that's personalized for your brand to further its evolution. The conversations we have here are to normalize the challenging things and make them a part of your normal exchanges.
Erica Courdae: This is how we remove stigma and create real change and connection, cross lines, and recreate boundaries to support not separate. If you enjoyed this podcast, show me some love by subscribing, sharing it with a friend or leaving us a review. Reviews are the fuel to keep the podcast engine going. Let's get more people dropping the veil in challenging their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Speaking of keeping it going, if you don't already follow and engage with us over on Instagram @ericacourdae, come on over there and do that. I really want to talk with you. So DM me, and let's do this. I love being here in creating the bridge for you to walk over, to become the change that you want to see. So join us next time. Until then, keep the dialogue going. Bye
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